on 21 June 2008
Back in the days of "rabbit ears," I was unable to pick up the area ABC channel unless the weather was extremely stormy. Thus, I didn't see most of "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" during its initial run. Fortunately, with the advent of cable, and the Sci-Fi Channel, I was able to play catch up, although there were significant cuts in the rebroadcasts in order to accommodate modern television's need to have more commercial time.
With the wonder of DVD compilations, I have now been able to see the installments in their original lengths, with great sound and picture enhancement. For that, I tip my hat to Twentieth Century Fox for its attention to detail, particularly on the "Voyage" and "Time Tunnel" sets, respectively.
Perhaps, the studio might go back and do the same for "Lost in Space," as it isn't up to par with the other two.
That said, I can now give my take on the compilation in question, the first half of the second season.
As has been previously stated, this was the first color season for the show and featured some physical changes to the Seaview and the awesome addition of the Flying Sub, enabling Admiral Nelson and crew to soar to new adventures, as well as sail to them. There are cast changes, notably Terry Becker replacing the late Henry Hulky as the new "chief." Alan Hunt was added to appeal to the younger audience but only lasted the second season.
Richard Basehart continued his commanding presence as "Admiral Nelson" and David Hedison resumed his role as the by-the-books "Captain Lee Crane." Del Monroe continued his role as the fan favorite "Kowalski" while Robert Dowdell was back as "Lt. Commander 'Chip' Morton." Richard Bull would be in a few episodes as "The Doctor" and Arch Whitting and Paul Trinka again assayed their respective roles of "Sparks" and "Patterson."
As far as the story lines go, there is a blend of action, sci-fi, and political intrigue in the first half of the second season. Some of the best shows highlight America's past and "future," though the latter was steeped in world conditions of the 60's. While the show does depend on state-of-the-art special effects, it is actually the character driven ones that are the best. Chief among the latter are "...And Five of Us Are Left," a drama wherein Nelson and a crewman come upon five survivors of World War II, living for almost three decades in a subterranean cave; "Escape from Venice," an exciting cat-and-mouse tale featuring great work from Basehart, Hedison, Hunt, and a superb supporting guest cast; "The Peacemaker," starring legendary filmmaker John Cassavettes as a treacherous American scientist; "The Silent Saboteurs," distinguished for a pre-Sulu appearance by George Takai.
"Jonah and the Whale" and "Leviathan" are the best of the SFX-laden installments, featuring great undersea shots and miniatures, while the latter sports a truly creepy transformation of a key character.
There are some that are just a lot of fun, especially by the actors that guest star. The twenty-something Victor Buono adds another in his long list of characterizations as the much older scientist bent on world domination in "The Cyborg." Charles Dierkop, who would the same year be featured in an uncredited part on producer Irwin Allen's "Lost in Space," has fun as the sinister lead character in "The Left-Handed Man." The same episode also features a scene-stealing turn from veteran actor Cyril Delevanti as a millionaire with evil machinations.
Dierkop would not be the only actor to appear more than once in an Allen production. Liam Sullivan, Regis Toomey, Lloyd Bochner, and Susan Flannery would appear in episodes from this season, as they had in the first season or the theatrical film of which the show was based.
The last episode in the set, "The Monster From Outer Space," has to feature one of the most laughable creations in the show's history, but, overall, it's not bad if one is into "alien possession."
Musically, two fine scores were contributed by Jerry Goldsmith ("Jonah and the Whale") and Nelson Riddle ("Escape from Venice"). The former score will be heavily borrowed throughout the duration of the show's run, while the latter is much lighter than the usual, reminiscent of the composer's work on "Batman".
The extras in this compilation are sparse and the split of the season is a downer; however, these two minuses can't detract from a classic of science fiction adventure.